A few words spoken in introduction to the panel on March 13, 2007 held at Earlham College. This panel was organized to honor Misty Gerner, and consisted of two alums and Philip Schrodt, Misty’s husband. The title was: International Education: Pathways to Peacemaking. 50 Years of International Education at Earlham.

Mary Garman introduced Phil Schrodt:

Beginning out panel tonight will be Philip Schrodt, who teaches Political Science at the University of Kansas. [assorted irrelevant comments about Phil edited out by by p.a.s...] Phil is also a friend to Earlham through his partnership and marriage with Deborah, Misty, Gerner, whom we honor tonight. He will be speaking some about their work together, so I won’t tell that story, but will just say this. I met Misty Gerner when I was an Earlham School of Religion student and she was an Earlham undergraduate—about 30 years ago. She and I became friends and we did pretty well at staying in touch after we left Earlham, although we both moved around a lot. In 1984 Misty was teaching at a college in New York, and I was a graduate student living in Evanston IL. I learned that Misty’s husband was teaching at Northwestern University. So one afternoon I knocked timidly on his office door—to discover that both of them were there—we had a joyful reunion and I met Phil for the first time—and we have been friends ever since.

They regularly came to see us—bringing gifts from all over the world for our children, who thought them to be among the most magical people on the planet. We talked and laughed, we ate good meals and laughed some more. When Misty got cancer, we cried. And then we learned how to laugh again. Over the years we talked about teaching, about learning, about God, about peace-making, and about love. And about friendship.

Misty and Phil established, some years ago, a fund called Ad Mundum—to the world. It is designed to support students at Earlham in their International Education—making it possible for them to have this life-changing experience. Gifts in memory of Misty continue to be sent to the Ad Mundum fund.

At the end of the panel (Danielle Short, EC ’95 and Deirdre Russo, EC ’92) Mary Garman made some closing remarks. After thanking those whose support had made the evening possible, she added:

And thanks to four other people: Dottie and Henry Gerner, Misty’s parents, and Mark and Nancy Gerner, Misty’s brother and sister-in-law. Their loss, of course, is enormous and we are grateful to them for coming here to share with us.

Many of you know that I have spent a great deal of time thinking about friendship and its connection with the divine presence in the universe. I have come to believe that friendship is a by-product of peacemaking, and may also be part of its substance. Certainly it is a powerful force—a particular type of love that can bind us to one another in amazing ways. I cling, these days, to the belief that love is more powerful that hate, and more powerful than death.

I have spoken about friendship on a number of occasions, and I usually end my talks with a quote about friendship which was sent to me by a “dear friend.” It will come as no surprise to you that Misty is that friend, writing to me after her first bout with cancer. It seems fitting this evening to give her the last word. She writes:

“I was remembering a comment you made some months ago to the effect that you felt our friendship had reached a deeper level of sharing over the past year. I know I have allowed myself to be far more vulnerable in recent months and have, as a result, experienced a great deal of support and love that I could not have previously accepted. I have come to believe that it is through friendships that I can gain a glimpse of that which is Divine. For if those who know me, with all my flaws, can still love me, perhaps I can begin to imagine a profound acceptance that transcends human experience and human understanding.”